Washington, D.C. and New York, February 24, 2021 – Hughes Hubbard & Reed today released its 2020 FCPA Alert, a comprehensive review of the global cases, trends and enforcement actions that impacted anti-corruption law and multinational corporations throughout 2020. The firm's anti-corruption and investigations lawyers highlight the most important trends and lessons for in-house counsel and compliance professionals each year.

“Despite the uncertainties stemming from COVID-19, 2020 was a significant year for anti-corruption and bribery enforcement, including record setting multi-national resolutions. This trend is likely to continue as governments around the world continue to cooperate and engage in coordinated investigations and resolutions,” said Kevin Abikoff, co-chair of Hughes Hubbard's Anti-Corruption & Internal Investigations practice. “Despite the challenges presented by remote work, it remains vital that companies and compliance departments remain vigilant in enforcing their compliance programs.”

Increased international and domestic coordination is one of the biggest takeaways from 2020 that will carry into 2021, the authors note. U.S. agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) have been increasingly coordinating with their foreign counterparts to bring charges against multinational companies, which is exemplified in numerous cases outlined in the report. But the authors highlight another key point of coordination that legal and compliance professionals must be keeping top of mind: higher levels of domestic coordination. Several atypical divisions and agencies – i.e., the United States Postal Inspection Services, Internal Revenue Service and Commodities Futures Trading Commission – aided the DOJ and SEC in several investigations in 2020, making clear that U.S. prosecutors have vast and growing resources available to investigate foreign bribery allegations.

The report details France's rapidly evolving anti-corruption enforcement regime as a regional highlight of 2020. One settlement that the country's Parquet national financier (PNF) led illustrates the importance of conducting thorough internal investigations when confronted with potential wrongdoing, a practice that has not been historically common in France. The authors expect France's PNF to take a larger role in global anti-corruption enforcement moving forward. Late in 2020, the French Cour de cassation overturned existing case law in finding that companies that wholly acquire other companies can be held liable for the prior criminal acts of the acquired entity. While the case did not involve prior corruption offenses, it will impact the anti-corruption due diligence that companies in France perform in the context of an acquisition.

“Every year, our analysis reveals the importance of implementing – and actively enforcing – a compliance program,” said Laura Perkins, co-chair of the Anti-Corruption & Internal Investigations practice, and a former Assistant Chief in the DOJ’s FCPA unit. “It is critical that companies adequately staff and empower their compliance departments, conduct due diligence and address red flags and allegations. The enforcement actions over the past year make clear that merely having a compliance program in place will not save a company from prosecution.  Compliance programs must be effective, which requires more than just words on paper.”

The complete report is available for download here.

About the Anti-Corruption & Investigations Practice Group

Hughes Hubbard’s Anti-Corruption & Internal Investigations Practice Group handles the full range of matters across the anti-corruption and compliance spectrum. It has conducted investigations in more than 90 countries involving the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws, resolved investigations and won landmark decisions for clients before U.S. and international authorities, and has served as compliance monitors approved by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United Nations.  

Lawyers in the group include former senior government enforcement officials, corporate compliance counsel, foreign-trained attorneys and certified public accountants located in the U.S., Paris and Rio de Janeiro. The group has many, longstanding relationships with leading local firms in countries across the world with which it works closely on cross-border matters.

About Hughes Hubbard

Hughes Hubbard & Reed is a New York City-based international law firm that offers clients results-focused legal services and a collaborative approach across a broad range of practices.  Hughes Hubbard was founded in 1888 by the renowned jurist and statesman Charles Evans Hughes.  The firm is a leader in promoting diversity and is recognized for its pro bono achievements. For more information, visit hugheshubbard.com.